Re: Jed Babbin's Tripping With TSA:
Just wanted to pass on a little story about the caliber of people hired by the TSA. I am a retired military police NCO, I have been involved with security operations for all sorts of people up to and including the Vice President of the United States. I have familiarity with most other equipment that the current screeners use to screen passengers. I have supervised and established security procedures for these operations.
After 9-11 I placed in my application to become a TSA screener or supervisor. I wanted to help my country again, and since I couldn't solider, this seemed a good idea. I never received a call back.
My brother who is two years younger and was in rehab for alcoholism, put his request in and he got called in for an interview, and hasn't done any security or police work in over thirty years.
I have heard similar stories, so in the normal fashion of big government, instead of the best and brightest the public got what they deserved.
Understand I am not bitter about not getting the call back. After hearing the stories I have heard about TSA, I would never want to be associated with such and organization.
-- SFC Kenneth E. Miller USA (RET)
TSA's efforts to search passengers ignores many other threats. Air freight typically goes unexamined. Service workers such as caterers and baggage handlers receive little scrutiny. Perimeter security is spotty at best. The document used to enter the gate area is a boarding pass, which can be easily duplicated using a scanner. Given all this, it's fortunate there have been no further domestic terror attacks. Perhaps Bush's preemption doctrine deserves credit.
The metric I use to assess airport security is very simple: if I myself am not subjected to extra intense scrutiny, then the airport and the flight I'm on are definitely not secured. Reason is, I am a very suspect-looking son of a bitch. I would pull me off the line every time and do strip and body-cavity searches. I'm usually traveling alone, I'm swarthy and Middle Eastern looking, I'm generally nervous and twitchy, travel without checked luggage, speak a Middle Eastern language into my cell phone and carry books, newspapers and other printed matter in a Middle Eastern language, much of which has photos such luminaries as Osama, Yasser, and Assad the Younger. The usual suspects. And don't try to tell me the TSA employees can distinguish Hebrew from Arabic!
Like Groucho, who famously said he wouldn't join any country club that would have him as a member, I don't board any flight calmly when I'm permitted to board without getting the third degree.
Sadly, I slip through TSA security like a hot knife through butter. In the course of flying about 100,000 miles over the past 18 months, I've been given extra scrutiny (the "random" gate search) exactly once. In Raleigh-Durham, where they took Jed Babbin's armor-piercing cigar lighter.
My kid recently made it through FLL security on a flight to LGA with a couple of live 9mm rounds in his jacket pocket, souvenirs of our lovely bonding day at the pistol range here in Florida. He looks even more menacing than I do, and has a Levantine given name to boot.
And I made it through FLL and again through JFK on a trip to Tel Aviv (!!!) with the tote bag we'd had at the range that day. Repacking it in Tel Aviv for my flight back to Florida, my wife found a few more 9mm rounds in one of the interior pockets. Somehow, I think these would have been found at Ben Gurion airport.
My personal, subjective impression is that U.S. airport security is <= (less than or equal to) what it was pre 9/11.
Having said that, it seems to me it is even worse in the UK. I've been through Gatwick several times this year, and each time, when I removed my laptop to pass it, exposed, through the machine, the inspector scornfully informed me that this was unnecessary. The last one, in August, added: "Here in Britain, we're professionals!" Britain seems to have taken the position that the "phoniness" of the threat posed by Saddam extends to all of the Islamofascist hosts.
-- Paul Kotik
I read somewhere, strategypage.com I believe, that ground fired missiles could not take down a 737 or any plane bigger than a 737. Is this a true statement and does the Spectator have any info on this?
-- Brian Gorham
Long Beach, NY
Jed Babbin replies: As in many things military, the answer is, "it depends." In a likely strike -- say to an outboard engine or nacelle -- the small warhead on one of these missiles could cause major damage, but would likely be survivable by all or most on board. Problem is, if the terrorist knows what he's doing, and gets lucky, there are many other forms of missile attack that could destroy the aircraft and shouldn't be talked about in the open. But even if the aircraft weren't destroyed, a series of such attacks -- coordinated on one day at various places -- would be enough to ground civilian aviation here for months. The economic effect would be horrific.
ANOTHER FRIEND WRITES
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Moron Vote:
It's very easy and intellectually lazy to call those you disagree with morons. You are a moron. Boy, that was an intelligent argument wasn't it? I am an independent voter and thinker that reads the Spectator to get intelligent thinking from the right. Oh well!! Approximately 500,000 more people voted for Al Gore than George Bush. So you live in a country full of morons. Why do you stand for it? I suggest you move to Guatemala where most are morons but at least the intelligent rule and have created the kind of utopia most right wingers would prefer for this country. That way you would avoid living in what is soon sure to be a country ruled by and for the morons.
-- George M. Noe
COVER (HER) UP
Re: Mary Menard's letter ("Cover Girl") in Reader Mail's Citizen Action:
I totally agree with the writer of the letter speaking about the picture of Hillary. I, too, have felt that way many times, but just too lazy to write. Please remove her and put a picture of someone worthy of being on your website! Thanks, Mary Menard.
Re: Mary Menard's revulsion at seeing Hillary's disgusting face every time she goes to your website:
Right. My view is that Hillary is a snotty little adolescent; a Jezebel/Wife of Herod/Jadas (Chronicles of Narnia) wannabe. She has managed to twist out her eternal reward in this life. She represents all that a decent woman or man should not want to be (or want to look at/listen to).
Otherwise, God save us from this creature!
-- Carl Gordon Pyper
Mary Menard is right. Please drop the photo of the world's only two legged dose of saltpeter.
-- Gene Hauber
STILL MUST READING
Re: Lawrence Henry's My Name Is Rush L.:
Exceptional Article. The author exudes the one thing lacking in the Rush bashers. It is a rare almost lost characteristic that is not sought by society today and is often found in a group of recovering addicts. It's called grace.
-- Elle Haynes
GOING EASY ON ED
Re: Ed Marston's letter ("Counterpoint") in Reader Mail's Citizen Action:
Ed Marston of Paonia, Colorado, wrote you to suggest that "this situation with Mr. Limbaugh is forcing you usually razor-minded conservatives into the fuzzy world usually occupied by us liberals." Nonsense. For one thing, liberals aren't "fuzzy minded." What they are is consistent. They filter everything through at least one of (a) a narcissistic desire to be admired, (b) resentment for the capable and successful or (c) a razor-sharp sense of political advantage. Conservatives and (may I say) libertarians, on the other hand, while not necessarily immune to (a) or (c), are also prone to employ filters such as a sense of duty to God or country, or a belief that public policy ought to be driven at some level by sound political principles that are rooted in reality and a fair-minded concept of the public good. Today's liberals often pay lip service to these things, but they'll snicker at them too. They never, ever let those values take precedence when the chips are down.
In Rush's case, I don't think there's a single conservative who is prepared to give Rush anything like the "pass" that liberals have given to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, Al Gore, Teddy Kennedy … I could go on, but what's the point. We feel sorry for Rush, but we know he's done wrong. Find a leftist to say that in public about any of the above-mentioned. When Nixon stood accused, it was conservatives who at the end of the day decided that the evidence against him couldn't be refuted and they went somberly to the White House and told him that he had to resign. Who among the Democrats did anything like that in analogous circumstances? If Republicans were as willing as Democrats to subordinate principle to political advantage, Bob Packwood, John Tower, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, any number of guys would never have been shamed into stepping down or accepting a penalty. I know that it makes people like Ed in Paonia feel better to say, "You're as bad as we are," but they're wrong. We aren't.
-- Leighton M. Anderson
Ed Marston of Paonia, Colorado asserts "Mr. Limbaugh's value was that he appealed to the open-minded. Now he's badly damaged goods."
He undermines this pearl-cast-before-swine with a revealing surmise: "Your present approach will work with Moron Republicans -- anything will work with them."
So much for Mr. Marston's notion of an "open mind".
His attempt at smugly dismissing Mr. Limbaugh -- "as a propagandist for the Republican Party, he's in Big Trouble" -- suggests Mr. Marston is hastily putting all his eggs in that fragile basket known as the triumph of hope over experience.
Here is a pearl for Mr. Marston: Leap in haste; repent at leisure.
My own guess is that as a formidable fencing master with talent on loan from GOD, Mr. L., will again take to the airwaves behind the golden EIB microphone when this hiatus is over. When he does, what a feast awaits him!
For El Rushbo and his devoted following: bon appetit. The best is yet to come.
-- Thomas E. Stuart
Ed Marston's misreading of Lawrence Henry's article goes beyond the reply by the author.
If he'd bother to have listened to Rush's statements on his Friday show before taking his leave, or read them on Rush's website, he'd know Rush admitted to checking himself into rehab twice before and well before any press talk of an investigation.
Also, he should be more careful with the law since using controlled narcotics is not, as he stated, a felony or every pharmacist would be in jail. It's the trafficking of controlled narcotics that is a class-B felony.
And Mr. Marston should be sure he has all his facts straight since the Palm Beach County investigation into the pharmacy of a couple that were illegally trafficking in these drugs has been ongoing for two years and never once did Rush's name come up until the National Enquirer paid his maid six figures to tell of her part in the investigation just recently.
I don't know who's a truer propagandist for his cause than someone that makes judgments based on no facts in his rush to denounce someone he hates.
It wasn't surprising that the first time I saw where Mr. Marston was from I read it as "Paranoia," Colorado.
-- Greg Barnard
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